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(en) Comunismo Libertario, Anno 6 n.32-33 April 1992 - Anarchist communist theory and strategy and the anti-organizational deviation - THE COMMUNIST ORIGINS OF ANARCHISM by Adriana DadÃ

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 4 Nov 2003 09:53:29 +0100 (CET)

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Anarchism was defined as anti-authoritarian communism in the period
of the 1st International, during which Bakunin and the majority of
member sections of the organization laid the foundations of anarchist
communist theory - organizational dualism, the role of the masses as
the only revolutionary forces, the role of the conscious minority as
"invisible guides" inserted in the mass organization, the International
Workingman's Association, and anarchy being the utopistic
management of an egalitarian, libertarian society which we seek.

Cafiero described the evidently communist character of anarchism like

"it is not enough to state that communism is something possible; we
can state that it is necessary. Not only can one be communist; one
must be, at the risk of the revolution failing" ... "once we called
ourselves 'collectivists' in order to distinguish ourselves from the
individualists and from the authoritarian communists, but basically we
were anti-authoritarian communists, and by calling ourselves
'collectivists' we thought that this would express our idea that
everything must be held in common, without making any difference
between the instruments and the materials of labour and the products
of the collective labour" ... "One cannot be an anarchist without being
communist" ... "We must be communists, because it is in communism
that real equality can be reached" ... We must be communists because
the people, who do not understand collectivist sophisms, understand
communism perfectly" ... "We must be communists, because we are
anarchists, because anarchy and communism are the two ne

While anarchism was born decidedly communist, it is true that the
persecution of the international by the governments of the period led
to deviations of Bakuninist theory, deviations which would leave their
mark on the history of the anarchist movement, above all on the Italian

Together with "propaganda by the deed" - which was an attempt to
push the masses into insurrection and thereby, in effect, substituting
itself for them - another current which developed and was fed by it
was the anti-organizational current which had its roots in the
theorizations of Kropotkin. In Kropotkinist anarco-communist theory,
in fact, the aim of revolutionary action is always a society where
"everyone gives according to their ability and everyone receives
according to their needs", in other words - communism. But this
communism is understood as a natural harmonious state which
humanity would inevitably tend towards as a result of two parallel
causes: the inborn, natural solidarity of Man and the idea of the basic
goodness of the human soul which lead to a preference for any form of
spontaneism. Furthermore, once it has been freed from capitalist
dominion, scientific progress (which capitalist domination uses to
distance Man from nature) will be a potent factor in the formatio

As communism represents the inevitable result of human history, as
long as it is reached spontaneously as a result of certain inescapable
factors such as Man's own inclinations and the laws which govern
nature, there is a total absence in Kropotkin of any trace of political
strategy. In fact, for Kropotkin and his imitators, every form of
organization, political or union, must be rejected as both are ways of
channeling spontaneity which is intrinsically good and leads
automatically to communism.

For anarchist communists, on the other hand, organization is at one
and the same time necessary for our struggles and a guarantee of the
revolutionary result of these struggles.

For the anarcho-communists, organization is "a bourgeois
phenomenon" which, by compressing spontaneity, carries us further
from the final result and impedes the development of the goodness of
human nature and its tendency towards positive self-organization. As
the most important thing is the purity of the doctrine in its harmonious
vision of the world, in other words the goal which Man desires to
reach, the class struggle is at most an instrument to be used in order
to reach this goal. In this way anarcho-communism distances itself
from the historical path of anarchist communism (understood as a
theory for the emancipation of the oppressed classes and therefore
inseparably linked to the class struggle) and becomes instead a theory
which is valid for everyone. This leads to a rejection of the class
struggle, seen as limiting a theory which is valid for ever, which relies
only on the eternal aspiration of personal liberty of every human being;
an accent is placed only on the relationsh

Then again, those who see in the class struggle only a useful
instrument for the emancipation of humanity become disappointed by
the slowness and discontinuity with which the workers' movement
responds to the call of social justice,, for its constant need to win day
by day better living conditions within this society.
Anarcho-communists of this type, therefore, are prone to a deep
distrust in the inevitably reformist masses, affected by economicism
and incapable of wider prospectives. From these premises, two forms
of political behaviour are derived which are very close and often
mixed, but which however represent a degeneration from the
principles of anarchist communism.

In the first, the only result is indiscriminate ideological propaganda
designed to win more people over to the theory, a sort of educationism
where it is expected that others will sooner or later come to
understand the intrinsic beauty of the ideal.

In the second case, the action of revolutionaries is substituted for that
of the masses in the belief that the heroic act will provide the spark
for a spontaneous insurrection and that any action, even one which is
not part of a planned strategy, can represent a further stage towards
harmonious communism, simply because it is coherent with the aims
and the conscience of the revolutionary. If the revolution must be
armed and destroy the State, understood as the centre of oppression,
then revolutionaries must concretely practice armed struggle against
the State as of now. In consequence, this second tradition has
historically been willing to engage in adventuristic practices which do
not necessarily exclude the possibility of terrorism, and to link itself to
the propagandists of individual action who do not have to answer to
any type of mass organization. Neither does their action, unlike that of
the anarchist communists, have to form part of the process of political
growth of the work

Starting from these premises, anarcho-communists charge
themselves, as conscious revolutionaries, with breaking the chains of
humanity, without bothering about the process of the proletariat's
re-appropriation of knowledge, in the conviction that the fall of the
State will provoke (with no previous preparation) the spontaneous
embarkation of freed humanity on the road to communism.

After the decline of anarchism at the end of the last century into an
isolationist period of terrorist acts, in many countries it re-discovered
its mass base through anarcho-syndicalism, in other words in those
workers' organizations which slowly brought anarchism back to its
communist roots. It was not by chance that strong anarcho-syndicalist
organizations (such as the UGT in France, the FOR A in Argentina,
the CNT in Spain and the USI in Italy, to name but the best-known) in
the first two decades of the century were flanked by decidedly
anarchist communist organization such as the Fédération
Communiste Revolutionnaire in France, the Federación Anarquista
Iberica in Spain and the Unione dei Comunisti Anarchici d'Italia
(which later became the Unione Anarchica Italiana) in Italy.

Let us now try to summarise the distinctive features of anarchist
communist which even today distinguish us from the other tendencies
of anarchism.

Referring back to Bakuninist theory, anarchist communism clearly
distinguishes between the class political movement (the revolutionary
minority) and the class economic movement (the mass organization).

The former organizes all those militants in the mass organization who
share the same theory, the same political strategy and well-articulated
homogeneous tactics. It is the task of this organization to act as a
repository for the class memory on the one hand, and on the other to
elaborate a common strategy which can allow the various moments of
struggle to be linked within the class, while being a stimulus and guide
for this. To quote Bakunin in his letter "to the Italian comrades" (2):
"if you each operate in isolation on your own initiative, you will surely
remain impotent; united, by organizing your forces, no matter how few
they are to begin with, into one single collective action inspired by the
same idea, the same goal, the same position, you will be invincible".

The mass organization on the other hand is the organization that the
proletariat gives itself for the defence of its interests, and
organization that is therefore heterogeneous, which has as its goal the
emancipation of the class through direct action, self-organization and
which practices these methods constantly. The aim of really
autonomous mass action is the expropriation of capital by the
associated workers, in other words restitution to the producers and to
their associations for them of all that has been produced by the labour
of the working class over the centuries. The immediate aim is to
continually develop the spirit of solidarity between the workers and of
resistance against the oppressors, to keep the proletariat in practice
through continual struggle in its various forms, to conquer right now
everything all the freedoms and wealth that can be taken from
capitalism, no matter how little it is.

Even from the very definition of the role of the political organization
and that of the mass organization, it is evident that the function of the
anarchist communist organization is nothing like that of a leninist
organization. The political organization is not recognized within the
mass organization as having any official standing. It is not and must
not be a recognized and institutionalized leadership as a result of
which it must impose its solutions and expect to represent the "real"
class interests, in the style of the leninists. It is simply a place of
confrontation and elaboration where politically homogeneous
comrades who prepare and finalize their action and the proposals to
their analysis and their ideology, without expecting that it be accepted
on the basis of confrontation within the mass organization. It is simply
the place where politically kindred comrades can debate with each
other, work out, prepare and set their goals for action and their
proposals which are coherent

Anarchist communist ideology therefore assigns the political
organization a very precise role as "engine" of the revolutionary
process and confers the role of sole revolutionary agent on the
masses. In this conception of the role of the organization can be seen
the difference in priority from the marxists on the one hand, but also
with the various deviations from anarchist communism.



1. CAFIERO, C, Anarchia e comunismo. A summary of the speech
made by comrade Cafiero to the Congress of the Jura Federation, A.
DADA', L'anarchismo in Italia: fra movimento e partito, Milan, 1984,

2. This document was published by Bakunin in the form of a letter to
Celso Ceretti and republished in A. DADA', op.cit., p.152-65.

This article is taken from the old journal of the FdCA and has recently been
added to our website. We have also updated the publications section of the website.
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